JJ 02/64: Dick Morrissey – Have You Heard!

Sixty years ago Mike Shera regretted that British jazz records sold so badly, blaming not poor quality but postcode prejudice. First published in Jazz Journal February 1964

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With the possible exceptions of Dankworth and Hayes, modern jazz recordings of British musicians, it seems, just do not sell these days. Doug Dobell told me quite frankly that he will be very surprised if he covers his expenses from the sale of the record.

The solution may well lie, as some have suggested, in issuing British jazz on cheap labels. Still, it is difficult to believe that anyone but an enterprising independent label would record a group like Morrissey’s, mainly because it is unlikely to be well known outside London. Which it most certainly should be.

Morrissey has more than fulfilled the promise of his early years; there are very few tenorists in this country who can match him on his showing here. His playing has the direct, down-to-earth, no nonsense qualities of a Dexter Gordon or a Stanley Turrentine. Although he be­lieves in swinging hard, his playing is also some of the refreshingly melodic I have heard in a long time. Harry South, who wrote all the originals and did all the scores, is also a considerable asset as a soloist. Like Morrissey, he combines maximum swing with melodic invention.

The rhythm section is as excellent as one has come to expect from British moder­nists, with Dougan’s drumming outstand­ing. The only real disappointments on the record are several dull bass solos, though Bates is good as a section player. The recording, too, is extremely good, well up to American standards, and vastly superior to most examples of British recording I have heard.

By British standards, then, an out­standing record – a very good one by any standard. If it was a Blue Note album, with the photo and name of some hither­to unrecorded American tenor player on it, I’m sure Doug Dobell (and Dick Morrissey) would sell enough copies to more than make ends meet. I hope they do anyway. They certainly deserve to.


Discography
Down Home; Skatin’; The Goblin; The Celt (20 min) – Serenata; On The Spot; There And Back; Journey Home (20¾ min)
Dick Morrissey (ten); Harry South (p); Phil Bates (bs); Jackie Dougan (d). London, July & August. 1963.
(77 LEU 12/8 12inLP 33s. 9d.)